It was a good local derby to start the season. Whakatane Town, who dropped down from the Federation League and SLH Contracting Plains Rangers, who were pushed up a division, met in BOP division one. The game also doubled as a Sponsors' Cup challenge to add extra meaning. The conditions were excellent and both teams started out in organised fashion.
Whakatane put together some nice attacks, but Rangers held their shape and defended well for the first twenty minutes. Jamaal James, playing up front for Rangers, also had a couple of decent runs down the wing, but couldn't find the final pass. Later in the half Whakatane began to dominate and run Rangers ragged. They hit the post but the ball was cleared and three minutes into time added on Rangers' keeper Christian Wetting made an excellent save to keep his team in it. The score was 0 – 0 at half time.
Rangers attacked early in the second half. After good combinations down the middle featuring the passing of Petir Gray, James got through into the Whakatane area but couldn't slot it past the keeper. Both teams continued the battle, with the home team having more possession, but Rangers doing well in their turn. After twenty minutes a foul stopped a Rangers attack. Gray took the free kick and the ball was headed onto the Whakatane crossbar and away to safety. The toils of the first game of the season took their toll as the game progressed and cramps and injuries slowed down proceedings. Whakatane again started to put the pressure on. In the 40th minute keeper Wetting made a fine save to deny a one-on-one and then got up to save again. After a long period of added time, referee Roy Brown, who controlled the game very well, blew the final whistle. Whakatane Town 0, Plains Rangers 0.
Player – coach Wetting was named player of the day for Rangers after a stand out performance between the sticks. Others to impress were Levi Riri, who put his body on the line in defence, the skilful midfielder Petir Gray and the returning Jacob Heath. For Whakatane hard working attacker Cal Pirihi was player of the day.
Sadly on Sunday, Plains Rangers women were denied their opening game of the season when Rotorua United defaulted to them.
This weekend, Rangers men have a tough home game to Katakati, who also dropped out of the Federation league and started their season with a good win. On Sunday Rangers women have a difficult assignment of playing away at Papamoa, who were meant to be playing in a premier league but it was disbanded.